It is 1998. I am lying on the couch as I anxiously await the start of my favorite cartoon. The theme song starts on the TV of the show Spider-Man: The Animated Series – made by Marvel Films Animation and aired between 1994 and 1998 – and I wonder what will happen in these twenty unreleased minutes. I’m happy. I have two Spider-Man puppets by my side, and dinner should be almost ready, as I can smell the smell of meatballs cooking flooding the living room. I am happy but become even happier when I find out that today’s episode – which would later turn out to be the first of a triptych of episodes among the series’ best – will feature the first appearance of Venom. The symbiote will first take over the body of Peter Parker and, after the protagonist manages to get rid of it, of Eddie Brock.
I tried to explain in a few lines the reason I was eagerly awaiting Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 (which I included in the list of the most anticipated video games of the last quarter of 2023), the new Playstation 5 exclusive from Insomniac Games: the big landing in the video game saga that began in 2018 of the Venom symbiote. The best villain – or antihero – of all, the aesthetically coolest one. The only one who could undermine Spider-Man from my personal podium of “And you, if you were a Marvel character, who would you want to be?”
Nevertheless, I do not in any way want to limit Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 to the mere presence of the alien – although, trivially, the first question is how Peter will get the symbiote and how his character will also evolve in relation to the other usable protagonist in game, Miles Morales – because there’s so much more to talk about, and, frankly, I’m looking forward to doing it with you so much that, to explore this further, I also invite you to listen to the podcast episode dedicated at the top of the page.
Take a nice evening at Luna Park
It’s cool in New York, the lights of the city skyline illuminate the night, and Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, and Harry Osborn decide to spend a pleasant evening with each other at the city’s Luna Park. Among old friends, the hours flow by like a pleasure. However, I already know that something is going to happen. I sense this with my spidey senses that I have developed over time playing video games, reading comic books, and watching movies about Spider-Man. And in fact, not even time to finish the Ferris wheel ride, that the henchmen of Kraven, the other major villain of the title, show up in the amusement park ready to catch new prey to “feed” to their hunter.
With Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, I found that everyday feeling that my favorite Marvel character has always given me: two heroes who have to juggle love and friendships; jobs to maintain (Peter) and a college life that is there to start (Miles). But the unexpected is just around the corner and then emerges that sense of duty and responsibility to New York and the community that do justice to the famous definition “your loving neighborhood Spider-Man “.
La grande bravura di Insomniac è proprio quella di rendere Miles Morales e Peter Parker due persone normali prima che supereroi, la cui vita di tutti giorni è lo specchio di quella di un ragazzo o una ragazza tra i diciotto e i trentacinque anni, indipendentemente dalla possibilità o meno, di sparare ragnatele per viaggiare tra i grattacieli di Manhattan. La storia principale ha un ottimo ritmo e ti tiene sempre attaccata allo schermo.
To complement the main quest, there are also side quests whose management by the American development studio was, on balance, quite interesting. Compared with the previous chapter, the amount of fetch quests has decreased, and the reward for the player who decides to complete them all will be narrative. Therefore, while most of the assignments are still very similar to each other (don’t miss the Followers of the Flame quest), their completion allows for a complete picture of the narrative directed by Bryan Intihar and Ryan Smith.
In addition, there is another aspect to note related to the above handling: side quests are presented gradually on the map, a choice that does not weigh down the progression in the main story. By doing so, you have plenty of time to carry on the different storylines, without that typical anxiety resulting from seeing too many on-screen markers that, in other open world video games, might end up putting you off.
Venom in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Non disdegno il free-flow che abbiamo visto in diverse trasposizione dei videogiochi dedicati ai supereroi. Certamente è un combat system di facile apprendimento e altamente spettacolare ma soprattutto, in questo caso specifico, ha la fortuna di essere cucito addosso alla versione videoludica di Spider-Man e giustificato principalmente dai sensi di ragno, che permettono di evitare ogni colpo nemico, anche quelli che provano a coglierti di sorpresa alle spalle.
Insomniac riprende i moveset e le abilità uniche di Peter Parker nel primo Marvel’s Spider-Man e di Miles Morales nell’omonima espansione e li integra con i gadget a disposizione dei due uomini ragno così che gli attacchi speciali dei due arrampica muri e i gingilli iper-tecnologici possano aiutarsi a vicenda fino a diventare, con il tempo, complementari fra loro: ad esempio, ho spesso combinato il gadget Ragnatela Traente, per attirare più mob nello stesso punto ed esporli ad attacchi ad aerea, con il devastante Schianto Venom di Miles. Ok, tutto ben noto. Ora però vi racconto cosa mi è successo quando, ludicamente parlando, il Simbionte si è impossessato di Peter Parker.
The Spider-Man in the black suit, as I sincerely hoped, totally changed my perception of combat, transferring to me the same deliriums of omnipotence and addiction – so much so that I turned my nose up at those instances when I was forced by narrative issues to take back control of Miles Morales – who has Peter Parker at the moment when he first wisely and then masters Venom’s infinite powers. I spent all the skill points I had accumulated in the skill three branch dedicated to the Symbiote; I gave up stealth and every other possible approach to combat to jump into the fray headfirst for the sheer enjoyment of thrashing, knowing that no one could stand in my way.
We can also see the psychological transformation of our favorite photographer: Aunt May’s nephew often talks to the enemy, he constantly seeks defiance (he does not tease him as he is wont to do), he is angry and furious, he is…unrecognizable, even in the eyes of the people he loves. The introduction of the Symbiote – there is also another turning point of depth that I do not want to spoil in any way – marks a turning point in terms of gameplay, generating a break in a combat system that, beyond the management of gadgets, special powers, and the parry (the other new feature), remains pretty much the same throughout the adventure.
It is 2023…you are still happy
Arrivo alla fine di Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 e una serie infinita di domande iniziano a bombardare il mio cervello, del tipo: “Come si evolveranno le vite dei personaggi che mi hanno accompagnato in questa nuova storia? Quali sono i nuovo piani di Insomniac Games?” Quesiti che mi perseguitano come il simbionte che si impadronisce del mio cervello. Finiscono i titoli di coda e ad appesantire il carico dei film mentali che mi sto facendo in testa, ci pensa la scena post credit. Già so che ne voglio ancora, che non vedo l’ora dell’annuncio di un DLC.
Penso che forse questo secondo capitolo della saga Playstation dell’Uomo Ragno sia durato troppo poco – tranne le sessioni con Mary Jane, quelle durano sempre troppo e, anche se leggermente migliorate rispetto al primo capitolo, mostrano in modo evidente tutti i limiti dell’Intelligenza Artificiale dei nemici – ed è la prima volta che rifletto su questo tema da chissà quanto tempo. In fondo però, so bene che la longevità dell’opera si sposa alla perfezione con il mio modo di intendere i videogiochi (solitamente mi piace andare dritto al punto senza distrazioni).
I am as happy as I was when I watched the Spider-Man animated series from the 1990s. I am now running to the comic book store to stay inside this universe for a while longer, despite the fact that I have no idea what comic book to buy since I have not bought one in at least a decade. For this same and final reason, once I return home, I will first watch again Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and then, finally, catch up on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (here by the way, our review of Across the Spider-Verse) in anticipation of flying among the skyscrapers of Manhattan once again.